Anthropologie creation from square one

Merchandising displays fascinate me. The design, arrangement and layering of objects, and of course, eye-catching color combinations.
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Anthropologie does an amazing job of drawing shoppers into the store, and keeping them browsing for extended periods of time. According to this source, the average shopper spends 1.5 hours in the store! Hygge House blog has a great article with pics on the evolution of setting up one of these fantastic stores.
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via decor8

That just about "Covers" it!

Sony Bravia's latest advertisement, Pyramid is really cool.
Since I always like to know the story behind these fun videos, if you scroll to the bottom of this article, you can read about how it was digitally created. As I had thought, they didn't actually toss thousands of spools of thread off the Pyramid of Khafre in Egypt. :-)

"Black is Back" guest article up

My latest article on the color black is up over at decor8. I generally shy away from using too much black in interiors, as it can be very over-powering. But sometimes, it's just the way to go, and there are some really creative ways to use this potent color. How do you feel about black?

Branding Periodical Chart

Not -directly- color related, but really useful and well done. I found this Periodical Chart of branding definitions via Brand Autopsy. Written by Brandon Fritz, of Kolbrener. Y0u must check it out, and scroll over the different definitions, it's quite informative!
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Color games- how well do you know your stuff?

I just discovered a new color blog called Livelygrey, and the author has some rather challenging color games you can try out. As you progress, the exercises get harder and harder. Give it a try, and let us know how you did!
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Mere Paint?!

I just read an article about the Guggenheim Museum face lift currently taking place. There is evidently great debate over which color to paint the exterior. Frank Lloyd Wright, the original architect of the museum, wanted it painted buff yellow. Some neighborhood associations prefer the museum's proposal to keep it a shade of off-white, as it has been for many years.
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If you are reading this blog, then you already have a great appreciate for the nuances in color, and can appreciate how powerful colors can be in contributing to the perception of a built environment.
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Well, this comment in the article really irks me:
"This is not black and white. It's an extremely complex question, as stupid as that sounds for mere paint," said Pamela Jerome, director of Wanks Adams Slavin Associates, the project's preservation architect.
What?! "As stupid as it sounds for mere paint"? This, from an architecture firm. Go figure.

via Newsday

Colorful Condos

When I was traveling around the Pacific Northwest, we visited Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Seattle, Washington. While we were there, I happened upon these really nicely-done condominiums down by the ferry terminal.
I don't know if this is an issue in other countries, but from what I have noticed in America, the general public is scared of color. How is it in your area? Now, there are certainly exceptions, like New Mexico, or Florida. But from what I have seen, building clusters, such as condos, tend to be beige, brown, tan, grey, white, and various other neutrals.

Here's my opinion on this- it's BORING! Not to mention retains little or no sense of individuality for the home owner, and makes a huge building seem even more massive.
photos taken by Rachel Perls
So, when I come across exteriors that stand out with color, I am thrilled. What I like about these condos is that they utilize regional colors that compliment the environment. They stand out as sophisticated rich colors, yet still manage to settle nicely into their surroundings.

A nice change of pace, don't you think?

Painted ceilings or, the fifth wall

After my post on painted porch ceilings, now I am on a painted ceiling kick. On Oprah the other day, her designer, Nate Berkus, presented a series of home makeovers. And what do you know, one has a painted ceiling!
Nate painted the ceiling a vibrant green. "People are like, 'Oh my ceiling has to be white'—it really doesn't," he says. (image and quote source)
Here's a lovely, subtle one from Domino magazine
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Of course, you can get super fancy, and take ceiling colors to the next level, like this:
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I like how the designer took a utilitarian space that usually is just ignored, and tied it into the interior space, creating a dynamic sense of flow and continuity. So much more interesting than plain concrete, don't you think?

Or this... (and yes, this is just painted to -look- like a window and sky)
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When I am doing a residential color consultation for a client with unusually low ceilings, such as those in basements, I often recommend that they paint their ceiling the same color as the walls. That way, your eye is not drawn up to the ceiling where the contrast is greatest, between walls and ceiling. It blends it out, almost becoming a continuation of the walls.

If you were to go for a colored ceiling, what hue would it be? Anyone actually paint his or her ceilings something other than white?

Blue porch ceilings

There's a great post on porch ceilings over at Pigtown*Design. Check it out!
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I had never seen a blue porch ceiling until I moved to Baltimore, MD. They don't really have porches where I am from, in Northern CA. But I really love how they look, incorporating the sky into the architecture of the building.

European color sensibilities

Today I have a special treat for you. I'd like to introduce you to Renaud Garnier, a very talented graphic designer colleague of mine. He's principal and creative director of Smart Rebranding, a design shop located in Emeryville in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Since Renaud is a European transplant, (moved here from Belgium in 2000) I wanted to pick his brain about color and design, and how that differs from country to country. First, a little sampling of what he does.

Rachel: Would you give examples of projects where color played a major role in the development of packaging?

Renaud: Color is the designer's most powerful and quiet ally. Needless to say that in branding, color always plays a major role with a strong emotional impact; but when it comes to packaging - especially for the food industry - it becomes critical.
A lot of white (purity), a touch of green (natural) and the contemporary and energetic orange are certainly major contributors to the success of this packaging. Developed for Tastebuds, a new brand of healthy granola cookies.

When a cosmetic start up, L'Epi de Provence, asked us to define 6 colors representing scents for bath gels, the choice was fairly easy, harmonizing 6 different colors, each with a unique feel and yet in the same family. We chose quiet, muted, refined tones to convey the idea of the well being as well as a reminder of the original fragrances. But as the company grew, the line turned into 120 products and it became a real color challenge. We had to extend the palette very cautiously to maintain subtle nuances. For the display boxes and the booth panels we used a chic dark brown patterned background to make the packaging colors stand out.

Color code is sometimes the only thing, besides copy, identifying a line of products. In the case of Lulu B., a French imported wine, the grape color is the only difference between the bottles.

Identity created for Brett Walter, a voice talent, who wanted to convey a very feminine image, unlike her name, and add a vintage feel. Once again, both goals were achieved principally through color.

Rachel: Can you see differences between European and US markets in color codes?

Renaud: Yes, Coming from Europe, I indeed have a different sensitivity and I was surprised by some opposite color codes based on our cultural differences. Like, for example, some color palettes for yogurt packaging used in the US, very rich and heavy colors like brown or purple, as opposed to fresh colors like light blue or green more common in France. Appetizing colors here are obviously a different cultural bias.
U.S. packaging on left, European on right
Miles of yogurt in a French supermarket (image source)

Another example of cultural acceptance is the Wonderbread logo which used colors reminding me more of laundry detergent than a bakery product.
After 7 years of living in the US, I am still very often surprised by color choices for packagings which sell very well. The explanation lies in adhering to tradition less and is also due to the size of your market, which results in competitive and original marketing practices.

Rachel: What would you say is the biggest challenge when choosing colors for a design project?

Renaud: Without a doubt, the client's subjectivity. Even if you have rationale behind your color choice, it is a fight that you can rarely win if your client has a strong feeling about a color. Color in design is very complex. It depends on everyone's culture, background and personal taste; not to mention, color has a very strong emotional link.

While developing an identity for a school in Berkeley, I was specifically told not to use orange and blue for the logo (colors of UC Berkeley).
I presented around 30 color combinations scrupulously avoiding these colors. After review by the school's board, at the following meeting I received a post-it note with 2 pantone color references on it: 151 and 286 (for non designers, a classic orange and a classic blue)!
On a more positive note I would simply encourage clients and designers to dare more with colors. Color is probably the most simple way to bring happiness in our files and our life.

Rachel: Renaud, thanks so much for sharing your work with us! I'm sure he'd be happy to answer any questions you have if you want to post them in the comments section.

Do your logo colors represent anything?

Did you know this? In May of 2007, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) changed the rules of the bidding process for cities, with one clause stating that city logos "shall not contain the Olympic symbol, the Olympic motto, the Olympic flag, any other Olympic- related imagery [such as] flame, torch, medal, etc."
I had no idea.
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So, Chicago 2016's skyline torch had to be redesigned. But what I was drawn to the explanation of why these colors were used. A blue-to-green gradient on the bottom, represents the lakes and the parks, and a red-to-yellow gradient on the top, represents the skyline of the city at sunset. Nicely done, don't you think?

What colors do you think of when you consider your home town? Please share!

via Brand New

I'm back!

From the deliciously chilly Pacific Northwest where hubbie and I vacationed for the past two weeks. Thanks for hanging in there with my sparse postings. Hope to have some fun stuff for you very soon. And if you come across anything particularly interesting and color-related, I would love to know!